By Erik Myers
During no other time in Western culture has the past ever been more en vogue. As the popularity of Old Town’s new pinball gallery PinBall Jones shows, it goes well beyond remakes and reissues – what better way to indulge nostalgia than with the original artifacts?
Located beneath Old Town Square (in the basement suite of 107 Linden St.) and sharing a stairway pocket with the GNU Experience Gallery, Pinball Jones is owned by Kim Jones. A lifelong fan of the game, she began amassing machines. Impressing friends with her small collection, she lent the Lyric Cinema (300 E. Mountain Ave.) her “Creature From The Black Lagoon” machine. Lyric owner Ben Mozer took notice when customers began to constantly buzz around it.
“He knew of a open space next to GNU and encouraged me to utilize it,” Jones says of her gallery. “He was pivotal in making things come together.”
Stepping into the busy gallery on a Saturday afternoon is an odd experience, surrounded not only by the devices of decades gone by, but also the names and faces that stubbornly remain in modern entertainment. Peering out over one table is Elvira, the well-endowed horror TV host who awoke the sexuality of millions of young geeks in the eighties, and who still makes appearances around the country and hosts her own radio show. Another, “Demolition Man,” features the heavy stares of Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes, the faded stars of the 1993 sci-fi film that has since developed a cult following.
Jones’ favorite is “The Black Hole,” based on the 1979 Disney movie of the same name (and subject of an upcoming remake). She says it’s the most challenging machine she owns, and revolutionary for its time: it was among the first machines developed with solid-state electronics rather than electromechanical components like motors and relays. Its descendents include the more modern members of this gallery.
The Internet has been held largely responsible for nostalgia’s pervasiveness in today’s culture.But perhaps it’s different with Pinball Jones. Jones herself believes the popularity of her gallery, and that of “barcades” like The 1Up in Denver, signals pinball’s reawakening. She doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
“It’s the overall experience that brings people in to play,” she says. “They come with their friends, they meet other people, soak in the atmosphere, and take in the physical games and the sheer variety of them. It’s a big shift from where it was and it’s amazing to be in the middle of it.”
More information and operating hours can be found at pinballjones.com. Pinball tournaments are held at the gallery on every second Wednesday of the month.